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Someone Knows My Name: A Novel by Lawrence…

Someone Knows My Name: A Novel (2007)

by Lawrence Hill

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,5571442,355 (4.34)348
Recently added byprivate library, raischm, charl08, FAMeulstee, msf59, Kaethe, lcr317, arohabooks
  1. 20
    A Mercy by Toni Morrison (tangentialine)
  2. 64
    The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver (Bcteagirl)
    Bcteagirl: The book has a similar familial tone and is also told from the point of view of young girls growing up in a difficult situation. I had been looking for a book with a similar writing style and was happy to find this one. If you liked The Book of Negroes I recommend The Poisonwood Bible and vice versa.… (more)
  3. 20
    A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry (LDVoorberg)
  4. 10
    Epic Journeys of Freedom: Runaway Slaves of the American Revolution and Their Global Quest for Liberty by Cassandra Pybus (susanbooks)
    susanbooks: Pybus offers a brilliant nonfiction account of the events in Hill's novel, as well as extending the story to penal colonies in Australia.
  5. 10
    Slave: My True Story by Mende Nazer (_Lana_)
    _Lana_: If you enjoyed reading about slavery in a historical setting you might be interested in a true-tale of slavery’s modern form. Both books also have strong female protagonists.
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    The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano, or Gustavus Vassa, the African by Olaudah Equiano (tangentialine)
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    The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Jr Gates (Cecilturtle)
  8. 00
    The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (vancouverdeb)

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» See also 348 mentions

English (135)  Dutch (6)  Norwegian (1)  French (1)  All languages (143)
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
Someone Knows My Name is the extraordinary story of Aminata Diallo who – as a child of eleven – was stolen from the African village of Bayo and enslaved. Aminata survived the horrors of the slave ship, rape by her first owner, Appleby, (p160), the theft of both her children and the constant danger of being re-enslaved once she had regained her freedom. The story begins and ends with her old age in London when she was helping William Wilberforce and the Abolitionists to end the slave trade. It is fiction, but – as is made clear in the afterword, it is based on the true story of The Book Of Negroes and is the product of thorough research. The novel won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize in 2008.


The subject matter makes it compelling reading, but somehow it falters half way through when Aminata – known as Meena because her name is too hard to pronounce (really??) – has made her way to Nova Scotia in Canada, (then a British colony). There is a flatness about the writing, perhaps intentional, that mirrors her depression when she learns firstly that Chekura, her husband, was drowned at sea en route to freedom, and secondly that her daughter, May, has been stolen by the childless couple, the Witherspoons, and taken back to England. From this point on Aminata seems a little lost, even though she remains a woman determined to fight for her freedom.

I don’t think that Hill has depicted the overwhelming nature of grief very well.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2009/05/24/someone-knows-my-name-by-lawrence-hill/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Oct 5, 2016 |
4.5 ( )
  Amanda105 | Sep 5, 2016 |
A truly amazing book and one that has filled me with increasing knowledge of what a young woman went through in the guise of slavery." The end part that deals mostly with the Abolitionist movement in Britain brings up most of the outside conflicts of the pro- and con-abolitionist movement. Meenah's story, though, speaks of the dehumanizing aspects of slavery and is the biggest anti-slavery reason presented.

I was thrilled and amazed at the changes the author's voice went through as he wrote this woman's "memoirs": from happy child to confused child to frightened, dying child, and finally into slavery. Meenah has a few happy moments in her life but most of it is misery well-described, whether she is working on the indigo plantation (and instructed in the Gulah dialect) or spending long hours transcribing and learning letters and numbers, she is always working. And her life is not her own.

Highly recommended for readers who are ready for a mature story on slavery and its effect on the slaves." ( )
1 vote threadnsong | Jun 18, 2016 |
This was an amazing book to read, especially if you love history. The way Hill writes makes you feel like you are a part of the experience, walking side by side with the main character through her entire life. It made me cry, it made me angry, and it made me happy. ( )
  keyboardscoffee | May 30, 2016 |
Someone Knows My Name - Lawrence Hill
also published as The Book of Negroes
5 stars

“Every time I have sailed the seas, I have had the sense of gliding over the unburied.”

Aminata Diallo tells a story from a unique perspective. She is female, literate, and was born a free African. She has survived captivity, enslavement, abuse, loss, and revolution. She was born in the middle of the 18th century and sees the beginning of the next. Lawrence Hill’s fictional Aminata feels as real to me as any prominent hero of the American Revolution. Although I knew that the British offered freedom to slaves who assisted them during the American Revolution, I’d never read a word about the plight of the Black Loyalists. I’m grateful to Aminata and Lawrence Hill for the story.

Aminata’s story is gruesome; she doesn’t avoid the reality of her personal situation. Nor does she soften her condemnation of the individuals, institutions and governments who are responsible for the slave trade. Fortunately, the story isn’t overwhelmingly dismal. Aminata remains intellectually and emotionally independent in every situation. She has some good luck to balance her devastating bad luck. Superficially, Aminata is historically unlikely. A female slave who reads? A female slave who keeps her master’s financial books? A female slave who engineers her own escape to freedom? Somehow, Lawrence HIll makes Aminata completely believable. She emerges as an exceptional human being, but nothing about her history seems impossible.

This book may push out Russell’s Epitaph for the top spot among my favorites this year. It captured me from the first sentence. I was very sorry to see it end.

( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
With mature themes (e.g., a rape scene on the ship, descriptive killings, and sexual situations), this book is suited for older teens. Hill clearly researched multiple and sources to provide an accurate acount of Aminata's heroic journey and brings to life crucial world history. Teens who enjoyed Sharon Draper's Copper Sun will appreciate this page-turning novel.
added by Christa_Josh | editSchool Library Journal, Gregory Lum (Mar 1, 2008)
An unforgettable epic, seen through the eyes of a sharply realized, indomitable heroine.
added by Christa_Josh | editBooklist, Sarah Johnson (Oct 15, 2007)
Unfortunately, [Hill's] didactic purpose gets the upper hand and overwhelms the story. Aminata is simply too noble to be believable, and other major characters are mainly symbolic. Nevertheless, Hill's fascinating source material makes this a good choice for book clubs and discussion groups.
added by Christa_Josh | editLibrary Journal, Edward St. John (Oct 1, 2007)
In depicting a woman who survives history's most trying conditions through force of intelligence and personality, Hill's book is a harrowing, breathtaking tour de force.
added by Christa_Josh | editPublishers Weekly (Sep 3, 2007)
Livet som slave: Velbalansert historisk fiksjon om slavehandelen og ondskapens banalitet
added by annek49 | editDagbladet, Cathrine Krøger (Jun 29, 2006)

» Add other authors (10 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lawrence Hillprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Willems, IneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse. Therefore choose life.

--Deuteronomy 30:19
So geographers, in Afric-maps,

With savage-pictures fill their gaps;
And o'er unhabitable downs
Place elephants for want of towns.
--Jonathan Swift
For my daughter, and kindred spirit, Genevieve Aminata
First words
I seem to have trouble dying.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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The Book of Negroes (2007) was published as Someone Knows My Name in the U.S.A, Australia, and New Zealand.
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Abducted from Africa as a child and enslaved in South Carolina, Aminata Diallo thinks only of freedom—and of the knowledge she needs to get home. Sold to an indigo trader who recognizes her intelligence, Aminata is torn from her husband and child and thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan, Aminata helps pen the Book of Negroes, a list of blacks rewarded for service to the king with safe passage to Nova Scotia. There Aminata finds a life of hardship and stinging prejudice. When the British abolitionists come looking for "adventurers" to create a new colony in Sierra Leone, Aminata assists in moving 1,200 Nova Scotians to Africa and aiding the abolitionist cause by revealing the realities of slavery to the British public. This captivating story of one woman's remarkable experience spans six decades and three continents and brings to life a crucial chapter in world history.
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Dreaming of escaping her life of slavery in South Carolina and returning to her African home, slave Aminata Diallo is thrown into the chaos of the Revolutionary War, during which she helps create a list of black people who have been honored for their service to the king.… (more)

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393065782, 0393333094

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